13 Replies Latest reply: Apr 10, 2012 3:01 AM by [Jongware] RSS

    InDesign: a bad choice for a dictionary?

    [Jongware] MVP

      InDesign gets used more and more by people to create interactive PDFs, Flash buttons, eBooks, and even complete websites with. My standard advice to those people comes down to this: InDesign is primarily a tool to design books with. Printed matter. Everything else is a bonus, and you should not expect top notch performance, optimised output, or additional functions for any of these "side-products". It's a good choice for making pages, nothing else.


      So I used InDesign CS4 to do the layout for a large dictionary; >650 pages, two columns, small font, about 6600 characters per page. Three "main" paragraph styles, indicating Main Entry, Subentry, Additional information. About 15 additional character styles: main entry word, usual bold and italics for emphasis, but also a custom arrow, a custom small space, custom backgrounds for sub-entry indications, and custom superscripts -- plus a few GREP styles to prevent bad breaks between a couple of frequently occuring marker combinations. Every single paragraph of 2 to 8 lines contains at least 10 different character styles.

      I was wise enough not to put everything into a single large document; this is 20 separate files, one for each letter. File sizes range from about 3MB up to 10MB -- and all of it is all text, no graphics.


      Now the text corrections came in, I'm having second thoughts. Was InDesign the proper choice for this? Here is the problem:


      Every single mouse click, page turn, scroll, or deletion or insertion of a single character costs at least 10, and sometimes as much as 20 seconds.


      I've created large books before with this very same version, even processing up to 500 pages of text (prior to splitting them up into chapter-sized files, just for added convenience); but I've never seen this kind of infuriating/teeth gnashing/immensely frustrating behavior before. Sure, I am a reasonable guy and it's to be expected that ID gets slower with ever more complex layouts and text formatting. But really: click in a word, wait 10 seconds, press Delete, wait 10 seconds?


      By the way, the reason I am still sticking to CS4 instead of upgrading to one of the newer versions is because those run yet even slower (it's really funny: I've found that ID CS5.5 is already feeling sluggish when there is nothing on your screen but a blank document -- har, har, har ...). I can't imagine "upgrading" would suddenly make these files whiz about my screen.


      Perhaps I should downgrade the docs to CS3, do my corrections with that, then re-load them into CS4?


      Frustratingly yours,